Category Archives: Bourbon County

County Commission Meeting

The only person listed on the agenda at the start of the meeting was Marty giving the road report at 9 am and opening sealed bids for a generator at 10 am.

Roads Report

The Slick Rock Bridge project is going to incur an expense of $167,000. The $167,000 will be reimbursed by the Kansas T-Works program. However, the county needs to come up with the $167,000 payment to get the work done before the county can be reimbursed. The commissioners and the clerk determined that there was enough money available.

The current timeline looks like the bridge will take 5 months to build.

One of the county high loaders is using over a gallon of oil each day. It will cost $3,895 in parts to do a rebuild on the engine if the county does it themselves. A new engine would cost $20,200. The commissioners looked over different quotes and options. There was quite a bit of discussion regarding what would be most cost effective.

A citizen called in to ask how to go about protesting their taxes. Commissioner Warren conferred with the Clerk and told them they would need to speak with the Treasurer’s department who would help them setup a review with the county appraiser.


A citizen came in and asked about who is responsible for maintaining a fence between property when one piece of the property is in the CRP program. The commissioners said there is a $7.50 charge per commissioners to do a “fence viewing” where the Commissioners will come out and meet with both owners and then decree which owner is responsible for which part of the fence.

There was some discussion about how property boundaries works. Commissioner Coleman said that if you discover your neighbor has built a fence that is on your property, you have 15 years from the time it was discovered to correct the problem. Otherwise the fence becomes the new property line.

The citizen had to pick which two commissioners he wanted to have view the fence. Commissioner Coleman suggested that he choose Commissioner Warren and Chairman Endicott–even though that meant he would forgo the lucrative $7.50 payment for his service.

Generator Bids

There was a bid opening at 10 am for a generator. Commissioner Endicott had five sealed bids. They ranged from $46,079 to $92,500. The Commissioners decided to wait to review the bids before awarding the contract.

GPS/GIS Changing Acreage

Kansas Senator Bob Marshall came in at 10:00 to see what was going on and see what they though of the economic forum in Iola yesterday.

He wanted to talk about citizen Gary Harper who was concerned that his acreage has changed due to the GPS and the assessor process, but there has been no change to the deed. Senator Marshall said that if the assessed acreage changed, it needs to be changed on the deed. Mr Harper joined the conversation and Judy Orr was asked to come up to discuss the issue.

Senator Marshall asked whether or not GPS had been approved to be used for appraisals. Mr. Harper said that he had a 4.5 acre piece of property that has grown to 5.7 acres according to the appraiser’s office.

Senator Marshall pointed out that people can end up paying taxes on their property for years, but when they go to sell it, they can only sell it for the amount on the deed.

Shane Walker (Bourbon County GIS Coordinator) explained that the older maps were not “ortho rectified”. This means they didn’t take into consideration the curves in the land. So  the amount of land may change because the property isn’t flat. He said that sometimes a 1,000 foot line on the old maps would turn into a 1,021 foot line.

Mr. Walker said that Mr. Harper’s property change had to do with the way the old maps were made and that instead of measuring to the middle of the river, the old maps just went to the edge of the bank. He also said that years ago land was recorded in an “Atlas Book” and in some cases what was actually sold was very different from what the person thought they had. So the “Atlas Book” may have recorded the land as 80 acres, but in some cases it might have only been 60 acres.

After Mr. Harper and Senator Marshall left Judy Orr (County Appraiser) came in with the deed in question. She read it and most of the measurements in the legal description said things like “about 20 rods more or less.” Shane Walker said that he had seen some descriptions that said, “to the big rock in the middle of the river” or even “to the big oak tree.”

Emergency Preparedness

Keith Jefferies (Bourbon County Emergency Manager) talked about some of the emergency preparedness that is taking place. He also said that there is a red flag fire warning today and has placed several public service announcements letting people know that they should not burn. They are working on organizing a deployable mortuary system staffed with volunteers.

County Treasurer

Susan Quick said that Dan Meara (the attorney handling the tax sale) should have everything ready by December 1st. Ms. Quick said that Mr. Meara had some cases ready to file, but she had told individuals that they had until December 1st to pay their taxes. She also said it wasn’t fair if some people had the foreclosures started before others because it would give some people more time to pay.

The Commissioners said that they had planned on the lawsuits being filed in groups so they wouldn’t be done all at the same time. The Treasurer said that they had always filed them all together.  She feels that the Commissioners have “kicked the rug out from under her” in a number of things and asked the Commissioners to wait until the December 1st date to keep things fair and consistent with what the public had been told by the Treasurer’s office.

She said that waiting until December 1st is legal and that is the way they have always done it. Commissioner Allen said that “this is a new day.” It was brought up that the tax statements said to pay Bourbon County Treasurer Susan Quick. The Commissioners asked why this had changed. Ms. Quick said that this is how it has always been and asked,”Do you think I’m stupid enough to take the checks that are made out to me and cash them?”

She said she would change it next year to just say Bourbon County Treasurer.

Chairman Endicott said he would talk with Mr. Meara and ask him to hold off on filing anything until December 1st.

The Treasurer said that she has collected $58,938 in back taxes since October. She also said that the properties that are not homesteads can be sold one year sooner than the other properties. Joanne Long said that in the past they have only sold properties after 3 years in order to avoid difficulties in determining what is homestead and what is not.

The Treasurer said that all the money in escrow accounts from the payment plan has been applied to the taxes. Commissioner Warren asked if anyone was still on the payment plan. Ms. Quick said that it had been discontinued and no one is currently on the payment plan. Ms. Quick said, no one is being held off of the tax sale.

She gave the commissioners a list of $231,000 in taxes from properties from 2008. They asked for the same report for 2009 and 2010.

So November 30th is the last day people can pay taxes to avoid being on the tax sale. After this point, the property cannot be partially redeemed and the entire amount of unpaid taxes must be paid to prevent a sale.



Common Property Tax Questions

What is the Extension category?

The “extension” category goes to the Southwind Extension District which appears to fund some of the local Extension Offices. In the past, the extension office was only funded by the state and wasn’t paid for by a separate local levy, but now it is.

What is the Other category?

The “other” category is what funds Fort Scott Community College. Sometimes in the past this was labelled as FSCC. The change was due to differences in the way the computer systems handle creating the statements.

How do I protest my taxes?

The County Treasurer’s office has Payment Under Protest Applications. These allow you to pay first half of the property taxes. The protest must be filed by December 20th. The County Appraiser will schedule an informal hearing. After the hearing the County Appraise will notify the citizen of the results. If the citizen wants to further contest the appraisal, they can file an appeal with the Small Claims and Expedited Hearing Division or through the Regular Division of the State Court of Tax Appeals.

Why do we make checks out to Susan Quick County Treasurer?

The Treasurer wanted to make sure the everyone knew that the money doesn’t go to her personally. The instructions on how to pay have been this way for years, so there has been no change in this matter.


Other Unpaid Taxes

The Bourbon County Real Estate Tax Statements are starting to arrive and most people are going to see an increase in property taxes this year because of several mill levy increases. The County Commissioners have noted that if all the taxes due were paid, it is likely that the county wouldn’t have needed to raise the mill levy.

But property taxes aren’t the only form of income from the local government. Here is a list from the Kansas Department of Revenue of warrants for some of the other types of unpaid taxes.

Just in Bourbon County, there are over $600,000 in unpaid taxes. Now not all of this money would go to local governments. For example, the bulk of sales tax goes to the state. However, Kansas sales tax has gone up in recent years to deal with revenue shortfall just like the local government bodies have had to raise property taxes.

One of the biggest concerns from this list is that most of these taxes are either sales taxes or witholding taxes. That means they were actually collected from people–most likely Bourbon County citizens–and not remitted to the government. When the government didn’t get the taxes it needed, it had to raise taxes. So in effect, many locals have had to pay taxes twice. Once when it was collected as sales tax for a local purchase and again when the property taxes and sales taxes went up.

Certain types of taxes being unpaid can lead to prison terms for tax fraud which means that the local citizens may end up paying a third time by taxes that are going to cover keeping someone in prison. The best figures I could find for Kansas seem to estimate that it costs about $24,000 per year to keep someone in prison.

Government works when people follow the rules. Unfortunately when some people don’t follow the rules, the costs are distributed to those who do and it is often very expensive.

SALES TAX $104,963.35
FORT SCOTT , KS 667013030
SALES TAX $73,866.20
22 1/2 N MAIN ST
FORT SCOTT , KS 667011435
SALES TAX $44,751.65
FORT SCOTT , KS 667012704
2503 S MAIN ST
FORT SCOTT , KS 667018724
SALES TAX $39,173.48
11221 MARTY ST
OVERLAND PARK , KS 662102627
SALES TAX $39,173.48
11221 MARTY ST
OVERLAND PARK , KS 662102627
SALES TAX $39,173.48
FORT SCOTT , KS 667011531
SALES TAX $31,872.17
FORT SCOTT , KS 667013030
SALES TAX $27,964.88
FORT SCOTT , KS 667013030
SALES TAX $22,608.34
FORT SCOTT , KS 667013030
SALES TAX $22,418.92
FORT SCOTT , KS 667012604
1587 205TH ST
FORT SCOTT , KS 667018306
SALES TAX $9,797.97
FORT SCOTT , KS 667013030
FT SCOTT , KS 66701
FT SCOTT , KS 66701
FORT SCOTT , KS 667013030
SALES TAX $7,593.78
22 1/2 N MAIN ST
FORT SCOTT , KS 667011435
302 BAY ST
BRONSON , KS 667163058
302 BAY ST
BRONSON , KS 667163058
SALES TAX $2,934.24

Does Your Insurance Cover An Earthquake?

Most homeowner’s insurance in Kansas doesn’t cover an earthquake unless you specifically add it to your policy. Since the risk is very low, most homes in the Bourbon County area can be insured against earthquake damage for a few additional dollars per month. Be aware that the way deductibles are handled for earthquakes can be different than the way it is handled for other types of damage.

Even if you want coverage, you may not be able to get it right now. At least one local insurance company is unable to write earthquake insurance today. Its underwriters refuse to issue policies in this area due to the recent tremors.  Other companies will let you add coverage with a simple phone call.

If you are unsure of your coverage, your insurance agent can let you know what your policy covers and what options you have.


Bank Foreclosure Sale Rescheduled

There was a bank foreclosure sale for a single piece of property scheduled this morning at 10 am on the county court house steps, but 10 am came and went with no sale. The court house was not open because of Veterans Day and it appears that the sale was rescheduled for December 9th.

Apparently when a bank wishes to foreclose on an owner who is not paying their mortgage, they can’t simply take the property back. The bank’s position against the home must be auctioned off with the bid starting at the amount the bank is owed. If there are no buyers the property goes back to the bank and then the bank can then sell it through a realtor or through their own auction.

Tax Statements Coming

The county is getting ready to send out tax statements to property owners. Joanne Long said that the county sends out over 15,000 tax statements. Some properties have two statements–one that goes to the mortgage holder and one to the property owner. Property owners should see the statements sometime in the next week or so.

The County Clerk helps stuff some of the 15,000 tax statements on Monday.

The taxes can also be viewed online by following this link. Type in your last name, push “find now” and then click on the “current taxes” link.

Commission Meeting – November 7th

There was some discussion of the getting a crane to help move crusher equipment at the rock quarry. Commissioner Coleman said that when he was working with cranes they always tried to oversize the crane by 5x of whatever they are trying to lift. The commissioners were going to check to see just how much the equipment that needs to be moved weighs.

There will be no commission meeting on Friday due to the holiday. There will be no commission meeting on Monday due to the Kansas Association of Counties annual conference.

A citizen came in to talk to the commissioners about a large rock that bent up the A-arm and stabilizer from bottom of his car last Tuesday when he hit it and it drug him over into the ditch. The commissioners and county clerk gave him a form to fill out for the county insurance company.

Sewer District

Two citizens, John Scott & Curt Shankel, were updating the advisory committee for the new sewer district. The sewer system should be operational by the end of the month. They are asking that the committee be kept in the loop particularly in matters related to the price increases. They discussed how to keep things fair if people want to connect to the district in the future. The commissioners based a motion to recognize the advisory committee in an advisory capacity.

Vacation & Holiday

The commissioners passed a motion to close the landfill on Saturday when there is a holiday that falls on a Monday or Friday.

Redfield Alleged Stalker

The Mayor of Redfield, Gary Judd, came to talk to the commissioners about an alleged stalker / peeping tom. He said that citizens have started arming themselves and walking the streets at night. The other evening two citizens were out with a baseball bat and shotgun. He was concerned that some of the people arming themselves “shouldn’t even have a gun.” He said the sheriff’s department is doing the best they can do, but he was still concerned that someone was going to get hurt.

Allegedly someone broke into an individual’s home, watched her sleep, and kidnapped her from a convenience store. The review of the tapes from the convenience store doesn’t seem to support that.

He said there was a city council meeting tonight where the issue is going to be discussed.

The Commissioners suggested that he talk with the sherrif.  The Mayor said he had tried, but no one called him back. He felt like the person at the front desk was interrogating him. He said that if there was anything Redfield could do to work with the sheriff’s department, they would be very willing.

The Mayor came back after talking with the sheriff and said he and the sheriff were both questioning the validity of the allegations, but that the sheriff’s department was helping the town with the issue.

Quarry Meeting

The commissioners are meeting with the road and bridge crew at 7 am, November 9th at the county barn to discuss the move to a new quarry.



Why Wasn’t This Property Sold?

Here is a screenshot of the 2005 property taxes for a local business. Half of this amount should have been due on December 20th 2005 and the other half on May 10th 2006. Since the taxes weren’t paid, they should have been published in October 2006 which would have started the redemption period. For non-homestead property that would have been 24 months.

So the property should have been at any Sheriff’s sale that occurred after October of 2008. However, the taxes were not paid until March of 2010. Was there no tax sale from October 2008 until some point after March of 2010? The Bourbon County website lists a 2009 tax sale list, but this property was not included. According to the Commission minutes, there was a tax sale held January 27th, 2010.

When I asked Treasurer wasn’t sure why this property wasn’t on the sale and she didn’t recall any reason why it was held off. It is important to note that there are many stages that property goes through before being listed on a sale and it is entirely possible that it was submitted as property for sale, from the Treasurer’s office but held out based on other criteria.

If there was a reason why the property was held off the tax sale, was the interest calculated correctly? The interest rate for 2005 taxes was 7%. The total amount owed would incurred interest from May 20th 2006 until March 22nd, 2010 or 46 months and two days.  Half of the amount would have incurred interest from December 10th, 2005 until May 20th, 2006 or 5 months 10 days. If we round the time to just months the total comes to $7,116.29 in interest. There should have been another $15 or so in fees as well.

According to Susan Porter, who used to work in the Treasurer’s office, the system we are looking at here, has a safe guard against accepting incorrect interest.  It requires that you manually over-ride the interest.

When this is entered to actually pay the tax on the tax payment screen the only way for the interest or penalty to be changed or removed is a manual override or to back date the payment calendar date. Until this is done the correct amount of interest and penalties are calculated correctly. ~ Susan Porter source

If this is correct, then someone would have needed to intentionally marked the amount as complete even though the system was showing there was still around $900 owed. I asked the Treasurer the discrepancy could be due to the way that the amortization schedule works. In other words if part of the taxes owed were paid early on, those taxes would no longer be accuring interest. So it is possible the taxes were calculated correctly, but since the date of each payment doesn’t show up on the public website, it is hard to tell.

Interestingly this particular company does have a payment plan that was setup in 2010. They own just under $30,000. The payment plan states that they will pay $2,000 per month from April 20, 2011 until May 20, 2012. This only comes to $28,000 which is about $2,000 less than what they owe without factoring in the interest.

According to Mr. Sercer, he was told that the payment plans were based on an amortization schedule produced by the old computer system and that sometimes it came up with “crazy” interest rates. The Treasurer confirmed that this was likely what had happened in this situation. It seems very odd that it would generate a completely even number that doesn’t even add up to the full amount much less include interest.

The problem isn’t so much that the property wasn’t sold. Obviously it is better if the taxes are paid. However, if a property doesn’t have the threat of being sold, it is possible for other payments to become the priority.

Is it possible that simply following the timelines specified for selling delinquent property would have encouraged enough payments to have made the past mill levy increase unnecessary?


Harvest Ministries and Fraud Charges

Harvest Ministries owns the old Western building down town. In November of 2009, the Tribune ran a story about plans to turn it into a medical facility and television studio. There was also a story by KOAM.  In January of this year, the Tribune reported that the president of Harvest Ministries had been indicted on charges of fraud bankruptcy fraud.

Despite claiming innocence back in January Paul and Charolette House have both plead guilty to the charges according to eMissourian.

Apparently Mr. House pastored a church and he directed them to pay his salary to Harvest Ministries instead of to him directly. He then claimed he was not employed for bankruptcy and disability purposes while Harvest Ministries funneled the salary back into his personal accounts.

The county tax search shows that Harvest Ministries owns the property at 8 1st Street and 14 1st Street. There are outstanding taxes due on the properties of around $45,000 dating back to 2006.

With the Paul and Charolette House waiting to be sentenced early next year, it seems unlikely that there will be any plans to do anything with the building in the near future if ever.  It is possible that the county could sell the properties at the upcoming tax auction, but it may be difficult to find someone with a plan and the financing to do something with those buildings.

Commission Meeting – October 28th

Dean Mann

Dean Mann and two KDOT employees came in to discuss US Highway 69. KDOT did a meeting in Franklin yesterday to talk about the corridor from Fort Scott to Pittsburg. There is money allocated to put 4 lanes from Fort Scott South to 680th Street. This should begin in 2013 be completed by 2019.

KDOT is trying to get things prepared for the phase that comes after that. Mr. Mann said that some times the Federal government has money available for “shovel ready” projects. So the goal is to have the planning in place to take advantage of such funds if they become available. They want to complete the design and if there are no funds available it will “go on the shelf” until funds materialize. There is hope that by the time the Fort Scott section is constructed, there will be funds to continue with a four lane toward Arma.

The purpose of the meeting with the Commissioners was to ask if they would support getting the design done. While the addition wouldn’t have a direct impact on Bourbon County, it does have impact in how traffic moves through Fort Scott. Having local governments supporting the projects may help KDOT lean more favorably toward those projects instead of ones where there is not support or support hasn’t already been expressed.

Commissioner Endicott expressed concern that putting in the Arma connection might delay the Crawford County Corridor and asked if the money would be better spent on that project which would go from 680th Street through Pittsburg.  Mr. Mann explained that since the timeline of the Crawford County Corridor is unknown, the benefit of having a four lane in the Arma area may be very beneficial to have sooner (if funds become available) rather than waiting for the larger project.

Fort Scott is submitting a grant application today for a grant to turn US 69 from 18th Street to 23rd street into a 5 lane road.

The Commissioners passed a motion to support the plan as long as it didn’t delay the Crawford County Corridor project.

Dylan Morrow Director of Security SEKRCC (county jail)

Mr. Marrow talked with the Commissioners about some of the things he was doing to help reduce overtime. He also wanted to thank the Commissioners for helping him move around some responsibilities to be able to give some raises in his department.

The jail is spending a lot of money on plumbers and electricians, but that is just due to the age of the building.

Terri Johnson – County Attorney

The County Attorney suggested that the commissioners go into Executive Session to discuss a possible settlement for case 11CB45.

Another Executive Session was called for Attorney Client privilege regarding suits filed against the county and insurance claim loss ratio for 5 minutes.

Chairman Endicott asked the County Attorney what their next step should be related the allegations about the Treasurer’s office . The County Attorney said that she asked the Attorney General and KBI to look into the allegations back in August and she has yet to hear back from them regarding this request. She expects to hear back at some point in the near future.

The list that went to the abstractor in preparation for the tax sale was for 2007 and previous years delinquent taxes. In addition non-homestead properties could be foreclosed on for 2008 delinquent taxes. Ms. Johnson pointed out that from a practical standpoint there may need to be more than one tax sale depending on how property owners respond to the suit to foreclose and what type of delays occur on various properties.

There was some discussion about whether or not it makes sense to try to differentiate between homestead and non-homestead property and whether it is even possible to determine which properties fall into the homestead exemption category. In the past the county has just applied the three year rule to everyone.